Earlier this month, the Guide Relief Program launched, offering support and benefits to Montana’s guiding community. At more than 1,800 guides strong, the Guide Relief Program is focusing on Montana’s community for now, but has plans to expand in the future. The program initially started as a way to help guides during the first days of COVID, when many were forced to cancel trips and were out of work. The Guide Relief Program has since expanded, helping guides navigate governmental programs including unemployment, grants, and loans, and offering information on how to access mental health services, various types of insurance, and more. Below, find a press release from the organization:

BOZEMAN, MT – Montana’s fishing industry contributes over $900 million annually to the
state’s economy, and fishing guides are front-line protectors of the state’s fisheries, but
Montana’s guides work as independent contractors, without the safety net of benefits and
other resources traditionally provided by employers.

“As guides, we don’t have HR departments to go to for help with basic employee benefits,” said KynsLee Scott, a Missoula-based guide and co-founder of the Guide Relief Program who also serves as Director of Outreach and Guide Services. “We know that when we can keep guides working, we’ll have thousands of people invested in protecting our fisheries.”

The Guide Relief Program, launched last year to support guides during the pandemic, has
expanded its scope to offer members access to liability insurance, discount health benefits, free telehealth, accident insurance, roadside assistance, and more. “We have learned a great deal helping guides navigate the pandemic,” said Mollie Simpkins, co-founder and Executive Director of the Guide Relief Program. “We now know guides need access to a variety of resources in order to have a sustainable career in the field.”

The Guide Relief Program recently launched a revamped website and introductory video
explaining the mission. Licensed Montana fishing guides can become Guide Relief Program members and sign up for the group’s suite of benefit offerings through Cross Current Insurance. Members will also have access to the organization’s Guide Relief Fund, a program created to provide a financial safety net for guides in times of emergency. Additionally, through partnerships with the Western Montana Mental Health Center and the Bozeman Help Center, the organization will facilitate access to mental health services and resources.

“Guides are advocates for our fisheries.” said Scott. “Keeping healthy guides on the water
means healthier fisheries for everyone.”

Keep an eye out for more from the Guides Relief Program, and be sure to check out the website if you want to contribute or become a member (if you’re a licensed Montana guide)!

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